October 28, 2016

Bob Dylan says he'll attend the Nobel Awards ceremony: "Absolutely. If it’s at all possible."

This comes in an interview with The Telegraph's Edna Gunderson:
And as he talks, he starts to sound pretty pleased about becoming a Nobel laureate. “It’s hard to believe,” he muses. His name has been mentioned as on the shortlist for a number of years, but the announcement was certainly not expected. When he was first told, it was, Dylan confides, “amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?”

In which case, I can’t help but ask, why the long public silence about what it means? Jean-Paul Sartre famously declined the award in 1964, but Dylan has these past weeks seemed intent on simply refusing to acknowledge its existence....

For his part, Dylan sounds genuinely bemused by the whole ruckus. It is as if he can’t quite fathom where all the headlines have come from, that others have somehow been over-reacting. Couldn’t he just have taken the calls from the Nobel Committee?

“Well, I’m right here,” he says playfully, as if it was simply a matter of them dialling his number, but he offers no further explanation.
AND: Does he think his work belongs in the Nobel literature category? Gunderson reminds him of what's being said about Homer and Sappho and how their poems were written to be sung, but we still read them apart from whatever that music was supposed to be, and Bob Dylan's words could be read.
“I suppose so, in some way. Some [of my own] songs – “Blind Willie”, “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”, “Joey”, “A Hard Rain”, “Hurricane”, and some others – definitely are Homeric in value.”

Judge Posner "corrects" his statement that only Justices Ginsburg and Breyer are "qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court.

I blogged the statement yesterday, here. Maybe Judge Posner read some of your scornful comments, because now there's this:
The second correction I’d like to see made has to do with my saying that none of the sitting Justices (plus Scalia) is “qualified” for the Supreme Court except Ginsburg and Breyer. This could be misunderstood to mean that I think the others lack the necessary paper credentials, of which the most important are graduating from a law school and passing the bar exam (though one of our greatest Justices, Robert Jackson, had just a year of law school, and did not graduate). That was not my intention in using the word “qualified” (if I did use it). I meant good enough to be a Supreme Court Justice. There are something like 1.2 million American lawyers, some of whom are extremely smart, fair minded, experienced, etc. I sometimes ask myself: whether the nine current Supreme Court Justices (I’m restoring Scalia to life for this purpose) are the nine best-qualified lawyers to be Justices. Obviously not. Are they nine of the best 100? Obviously not. Nine of the best 1,000? I don’t think so. Nine of the best 10,000? I’ll give them that.
I wouldn't call that a "correction." It's pretty much what I understood him to mean the first time around.

And as long as I'm going back to that, let me explain what I meant yesterday when I related that Posner post to the post quoting Howard Stern saying that Donald Trump was able to do a good Howard Stern Show interview because he got in "the spirit of the show" which is "to talk like real people." I said:
Talking like a real person... then running for office. That's dangerous... unless you're a saintly real person. Most politicians get on-task, self-censoring, and robotic. That's the normal way to stay out of this kind of trouble.  
To get appointed to the Supreme Court you have to control your speech and not give the President's antagonists material they can use against you. You cannot be Robert Bork. That is, you cannot be an outspoken, interesting person like Judge Posner. That's what disqualifies you politically. So there's reason to say that everyone who is really qualified is politically disqualified.

And I do regret using the word "saintly." I think more highly of saints than that, and I bow to Paddy O's comment:
A saint would have even less chance than Trump. A real saint offends all the powerful, so wouldn't even get a chance to stand on a primary stage.

"Supreme Court takes up transgender school bathroom case."

CNN reports.

And here's a WaPo op-ed written by the litigant, Gavin Grimm:
I did not choose to announce to the news media that I am transgender. My school board made that decision for me. But now that I am visible, I want to use my position to help the country see transgender people like me as real people just living our lives. We are not perverse. We are not broken. We are not sick. We are not freaks. We cannot change who we are. Our gender identities are as innate as anyone else’s.

If the Supreme Court does take up my case, I hope the justices can see me and the rest of the transgender community for who we are — just people — and rule accordingly.
The case is Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., and you can tell by the name that the school lost in the court below. That means that if the 8-person Supreme Court splits evenly, Gavin Grimm wins. 

"Could Trump Be Impeached Shortly After He Takes Office?/It's highly improbable, but law scholars and political junkies are speculating about it."

Oh, that's just something from last April, in Politico. It popped up first when I Googled "impeaching before elected" after reading the breaking news: "F.B.I. Reviewing New Emails in Hillary Clinton Case":
The F.B.I. said Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the closed investigation into whether Hillary Clinton or her aides had mishandled classified information, potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.
And here's the article I was looking for with that Google search, Andrew McCarthy in The National Review: "Impeach Clinton to Bar Her from Holding Federal Office. It’s Constitutional."

ADDED: "New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices."
Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner. The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina....
This is one of these Friday afternoons.

AND: That last link goes to the NYT where the top-rated (by far) comment is: "And with one strangely opaque and noncommittal letter James Comey puts his thumb on the scales of the presidential election with 11 days to go. Truly this is a never ending nightmare."

ALSO: I removed the link on "F.B.I. Reviewing New Emails in Hillary Clinton Case" because it's gone dead. The material that was at the link is now at "New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices" (which is in the "ADDED" section above).

"We love the Hindus! We love India!"

Trump's pro-India ad is so weird.

Last night's rats.

Drawn by finger in texts to Meade last night, without thinking.

I'm remembering them now as I read about rats in the NYT: "How the Brown Rat Conquered New York City (and Every Other One, Too)." I take the trouble to try to draw the rat in one of this pictures...

Ack! Too much detail.

Not enough room in the window for my favorite parts, the steppin'-out paws....

Too much detail to take account of. I need to look away, forget about it, and try again later going on whatever impression is left on my brain... the tiny paw-tracks of memory.

Makes me think of Wordsworth: "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." Recollected. That's key.

"People sometimes commend me on how 'brave' it was for us to not have children. I laugh..."

"... because to my mind, I arrived at it in just about the most cowardly way: I lucked into childlessness (if having a defective uterus can be considered luck). Deep down I didn’t want to have children, but I kept limping toward motherhood anyway, because I thought I should want them until, in the end, my anatomy dictated my destiny."

From a NYT op-ed by Sari Botton with a title that is so wrong in tone and substance that I don't want to skew your thinking by putting it here.

"Many of us, ever since we first saw the guys in 'West Side Story,' have been in love with skintight jeans."

"(Many of us also have tried to duplicate the choreography of The Jets only to accidentally knock the cat off the bed. But I digress.) We have eaten carefully and worked out. Is our reward in midlife supposed to be a pair of dungarees so big and loose, they look like an orthopedist recommended them after knee replacement surgery? I say: No way! We haven’t exercised this much, skirted the carbs and avoided all those delicious desserts so we can look like a retired president who’s going to a Dave Matthews concert, have we? It’s time someone took a stand against all this self-imposed dorkiness. And I guess that someone is me."

From "Men, just say no to Dad jeans," by Peter Gerstenzang.

I'm struggling with this call to manliness that's premised on wanting to be like the gang-dancers in that old Broadway musical.  The classic great looking jeans of that era were Levi's 501 jeans which were not skintight and certainly not referred to as "skinny jeans." It was this:

The choice is not between "skinny jeans" and "dad jeans." Those are 2 dumb deviations in opposite directions from the ideal, which is just James Dean in Levi's 501 jeans. How can something so obvious for so long be forgotten?

Why did this American couple give their great art collection to a French museum?

"In the end, 'we decided to give it where we thought it would be appreciated the most,' [Spencer] Hays said on Wednesday, speaking in a Southern drawl and sitting in the couple’s cozy art-filled pied-à-terre [in Paris]. Their place is a short walk from the Musée d’Orsay, where the works will one day be on display — the largest foreign donation to France since World War II..."
“We told [France’s culture minister, Audrey Azoulay] we had decided to give all of our art to the French people,” Mr. Hays said. “The only thing we wanted to be sure she would do for us, we wanted it in one place, we want it all together, we don’t ever want any of it to be sold, and we never want it to be stored; we always want it on the wall.”...

Some might have hoped that the art would remain in the United States. “I felt guilty about that for a long time, but then I realized that more Americans would see the art here because so many people go to the Orsay,” Ms. Hays said, sitting in an Art Deco chair beneath two Bonnards and a Vuillard, two cornerstone painters in their collection.

"As the only person anyone knows who has spent time in a Zimbabwe jail, you should pen an oped calling for his killer’s extradition. What an asshole. Missed you at the mini-reunion."

Wikileaked email from John Podesta to Barry Bearak.

Bearak is a reporter who got thrown in prison in Zimbabwe as he was covering the elections there.

The "killer" in question was the man who killed Cecil the Lion.

I assume Podesta — writing for an audience of one — intended to be edgily hilarious. That's the trouble with eavesdropping. You don't get the relationship. You don't know the in-jokes. I mean, I was just giving some more thought to what I wrote about Chelsea Clinton's email to her parents that said "I hope this mini-behemoth is not rife with grammatical errors...." It could be that "mini-behemoth" is a joke among the 3 Clintons. Maybe one time they laughed over this obscure video. Or maybe they've fooled around with this toy.

Context is everything. Relationships are everything. In fact, the reason people cared about Cecil the Lion was because he wasn't just another lion — as the asshole/dentist killer thought — but a lion people had been relating to for many years.

You think with these leaks that you're getting into the private zone, hearing what really goes on, but that's exactly what you cannot do. You cannot be fair. I'm not saying don't read those leaked emails. Don't pretend you don't see what you do. But don't assume you know what they mean.

Here's Barry Bearak's report from 2008, "In Zimbabwe Jail: A Reporter’s Ordeal":

"I’m troubled by the revelation that you and this campaign actually discussed ‘using’ Eric Garner … Why would you want to ‘use my dad?"

"These people will co opt anything to push their agenda. Police violence is not the same as gun violence." And: "I'm [very] interested to know exactly what @CoreyCiorciari meant when he said ‘I know we have an Erica Garner problem’ in the #PodestaEmails19."

Eric Garner's daughter Erica Garner tweets out about what she saw in the Wikileaked email.

This strikes me as the human instinct: If you think you have me as your problem, I will be your problem.

"Speaking of news, there's as usual no sensible explanation of Pence's plane off the runway."

"Nobody can find a single person able to offer a simple technical explanation. Hard landing suggests they were either fast or long and in a hurry to get it down to start slowing, which is a pilot error. You're supposed to go around."

Writes rhhardin (in the comments to the previous post).

Here's a typical article on the Pence plane incident, short on technical substance and padded with fluff — like Pence throwing a football at some earlier point in the day, the choice of food on the flight (salmon or pork, the pork with "loaded potato"), the Secret Service joke before the landing ("93 percent chance we crash"), the view from the window ("Grass and mud starts coming up"), the thoughts in the head of one passenger ("Are we going to stop in the water? Are we going to stop in the grass? Are we going to hit something? … What’s the end game here?”), the smell ("like rubber, like burnt rubber"), quotes from people who didn't know what happened ("We were trying to figure out what the f--- had happened"), and the difficulty passengers had getting reconnected with their luggage.

Because I think the NYT is terribly slanted toward helping the Clintons, I read everything with an eye toward getting to normal.

I think: How would the equivalent material be presented in an article about Trump? And then I try to average it out, back to the middle. It's annoying, but it's possibly a good mental exercise, not unlike what I do when I read what I have to read for my job: judicial opinions. I don't have to read The New York Times, but where else am I going to get the news? Everything else is also bad in its own way, and I'm accustomed to the bad that is The New York Times.

This morning what I'm reading is "Chelsea Clinton’s Frustrations and Devotion Shown in Hacked Emails," by Amy Chozick. I assume the damaging material — which would be right up front in a Trump article — begins to appear many paragraphs down. I'm not going to tarry at the mushy beginning. (The first paragraph reads like a children's book: "Chelsea Clinton was alarmed.")

So let's skip ahead:
Though her housecleaning role had Hillary Clinton’s tacit approval (“My mother strongly agreed,” Ms. Clinton said in one email laying out proposed changes at the foundation)....
Ugh! Not far enough! (But let me just say that language-oriented feminists would chide Chozick for that "housecleaning" metaphor.)
Ms. Clinton, 31 at the time, had held various jobs, including positions at McKinsey & Company and Avenue Capital, a hedge fund owned by a major Clinton donor. She had degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia but had not quite found a way to harness all of her academic wherewithal...
Translation: Chelsea was at loose ends, drifting, unable or unwilling to make anything out of her long and very elite education. The word "wherewithal" is particularly silly, especially with the mixed-metaphor verb "harness." "Wherewithal," the noun, is usually a polysyllabic way to say money. The unnecessary reaching for polysyllabic words is an old-fashioned form of humor. H.W. Fowler cautioned against it all the way back in 1908. What is this urge, suddenly, to write like George Eliot or Charles Dickens? They were not bullshitting us. Are you?

And the funny thing is, Chozick sees that Chelsea Clinton is dipping into inane polysyllababble*:
Ms. Clinton often gravitated to weighty policy discussions and interspersed statistics and SAT words into casual conversations.

Hours after the 2012 attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, she mused about the unrest in Egypt and Libya in a late-night email to her mother. “Such anathema to us as Americans — and a painful reminder of how long it took modernism to take root in the U.S., after the Enlightenment, the 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th amendments,” she wrote. “Much to discuss when we talk, hopefully tomorrow?”

In another email addressed to “Dad, Mom,” Ms. Clinton seemed apologetic, writing, “I hope this mini-behemoth is not rife with grammatical errors or inadvertent gaps; I am sorry if either true.”
"SAT words" is putting it kindly. Why would a 31-year-old woman who went to Stanford, Oxford,** and Columbia use words like "anathema" and "behemoth"*** so badly, and why would the only offspring of Bill and Hillary Clinton even feel the need to try to impress her parents in the first place? What did they do to deserve it? Does it have anything to do with why Chelsea was at loose ends so late in her privileged life and why they installed her in their charitable operation?

Now, the meat of the Chozick piece is the "cascade of grievances, gossip and infighting" that the installation of Chelsea unleashed at the foundation:
Ms. Clinton had already started to fret about the intermingling of foundation business with Teneo, the corporate consulting firm co-founded by Douglas J. Band, one of her father’s closest aides. She suggested an audit of the charity and wrote that she was concerned that Teneo’s principals had been “hustling” business at foundation gatherings....
Band fought back with a 13-page memo about all the millions he'd raised for the foundation and Bill Clinton:
“We have solicited and obtained, as appropriate, in-kind services for the president and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like,” Mr. Band wrote.

The subtext was clear: Where Ms. Clinton saw a messy overlapping of business and charity that could haunt both of her parents, Mr. Band saw an ungrateful daughter who was naïve about how what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.” made its money, and how her own expensive lifestyle was funded.

“I just don’t think any of this is right and that we should be treated this way when no one else is, only because CVC has nothing better to do and need justify her existence,” he wrote in one email, using the initials for Chelsea Victoria Clinton. Mr. Band, who had already planned to leave the foundation to focus on Teneo, often expressed frustration at the global charity’s nepotism, pointing to Ms. Clinton’s installing her friends in central roles....
That is buried in the center of Chozick's piece, which proceeds into some fluff about a note "from the Bon Jovis" and Bill Clinton "buying clorox wipes" and Chelsea's feeling "profoundly disturbed" about the Haitian earthquake. Remember the headline: The idea is to leave you with an amorphous, generalized empathy for Chelsea with her frustrations and daughterly devotion.

But the story from the leaked emails is about the inner workings of the Clinton foundation — how the Clintons got rich finagling in a way that Band justified and Chelsea seems to have been able to see was quite wrong.

* I just coined that word, polysyllababble. But Google tells me it has been used twice before in the history of mankind as revealed by the internet, so let's just say I discovered it independently and I'm surprised I'm in a group as small as 3.

** Note that I, unlike Chozick, use the Oxford comma after "Oxford."

*** The Oxford English Dictionary defines "behemoth" as "An animal mentioned in the book of Job; probably the hippopotamus; but also used in modern literature as a general expression for one of the largest and strongest animals."

Going braless.

Here's a nice Buzzfeed video from last year about a bunch of young women who go braless for a week and talk about how they feel about the experience, before they do it and after:

I ran across that just now because my mind went in that direction when I was writing the previous post about a pencil test to see if the floors are slanted in that apartment you're considering renting. In my experience, the "pencil test" is a way to determine if you can get away with going braless.

I've got many things to say about going braless, but I've been blogging so long that I've probably already said everything worth saying. So, from the archive:

1. From July 2007: A summer associate texted a senior partner to ask if bras were part of the dress code. Hmm. Maybe the real question there was are you people strait-laced. Maybe that woman had a lot of options. Anyway, I offered my advice for going braless at work: Figure out how to do it so no one knows. If you can. Jackets. Layers. Come on, people. The women in that Buzzfeed video did not even attempt to do that.

2. September 2005: Critiquing a new Maidenform ad that has the "I dreamed I" woman staying home with a baby, I said: "If I'm staying home with kids, that bra is coming off! A bra is for going out into the male-dominated world and achieving. As soon as you cross the home threshold, that bra is off. Right, ladies? What is the lag time for you between when you walk through the door and when you take off the bra? Five minutes, tops? Is it the first, second, or third thing you do when you come home?"

3. March 2008: From an 8-point list of things people might question in the image of a law professor, #4 was bralessness: "I've always assumed the rule here is that you can go braless in class if no one can tell. There are many other breast-related questions, but perhaps you would think it unprofessional of me to ask them." I nip that discussion in the bud.

4. June 2009: "'There is, so far as [The Straight Dope] can discover, zero evidence that bras prevent saggy breasts.' I recommend bralessness. At least don’t let fear of drooping breasts stop you." Someone in the comments says a bra "sops up sweat under your breasts," and I retort "Go braless so you don't develop a place called 'under your breasts.'"

5. April 2013: More scientific news that wearing a bra doesn't prevent breasts from becoming saggy. It accelerates sagginess. "Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity. Instead, it languishes with a bra."

"Ms. Turner didn’t initially notice her apartment’s slanted floors. But now, despite her efforts to level the bed..."

"... 'it’s to the extent where I am afraid that it’s breaking my bed frame,' she said. Sometimes dresser drawers open on their own, 'kind of like it’s haunted.' She rearranged the furniture to account for the slope. Friends told her she should have tested apartments by bringing something to roll on the floor, like a pencil, but that never occurred to her."

From a NYT article about a young law school graduate searching for and finding an apartment in NYC. She wanted and got a small 1-bedroom where she could have a dog and that fit her budget of  $3,000 to $3,500 a month.

October 27, 2016

And now the prosecution has fizzled too. Fizzles all around.

"Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their followers, charged in the armed takeover of a federally owned Oregon wildlife sanctuary in January, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges... There was a Wild West quality to the episode, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle...."

The NYT reports.

It was kind of short, that thing of making a thing out of shortness.

Twitter acquired Vine in 2013, and now they're packing it in. Twitter lives on, struggling, making a go of 140 characters, but Vine, those loops of 6 seconds, is done.

It was sweet for a time.
To skeptics who sweated our ever-eradicating attention spans—and to creators who were accustomed to telling stories over the course of minutes and hours, not mere seconds—Vine must initially have seemed like a low-brow Beelzebub, a goofy lark for people who wanted instant, swiftly forgettable gratification. But what users and viewers soon discovered was that, by isolating and repeating small moments, Vines could be kind of brilliant: They could amplify a joke, heighten a weird moment’s dream-like goofiness, and make the banal seem beautiful—sometimes all at once.
Like this:

And this:

That's all. It's over. It was always almost over. And now it's really truly over. You're free, at long last, at short first.

"This is who Trump is. He was always bombastic. He always rated women. He always talked in a misogynistic, sexist kind of way..."

"... but he did it sort of proudly and out in the open; and he still won the Republican primary. In one sense, the fact that we do an interview and people's personalities come out, I'm very proud of that," said Howard Stern.
"I, certainly, in a million years, I didn't expect Trump to seriously run for president," Stern said. "All the times he came on the show he was a very good sport and he was in the spirit of the show. He's been very friendly toward me, friendly toward the show, always coming on, so I certainly wasn't going to f--- him over by releasing those tapes. Those tapes are out there on the internet anyway, so that was my stance."
"As far as my role goes, I feel proud in the sense that, I don't think anybody else does an interview the way this show does," he continued. "Everyone when they interview is sort of afraid to talk like real people. Now those words are biting him in the ass, but in general, we have a different kind of interviewing process than any other place. Which is why, all of the sudden, everyone, CNN, NBC, Fox, they have to turn to our tapes because it's a real conversation."
Talking like a real person... then running for office. That's dangerous... unless you're a saintly real person. Most politicians get on-task, self-censoring, and robotic. That's the normal way to stay out of this kind of trouble. 

This post is related to this post, and I hope you see why, because I don't have time to explain it.

Spinning right round... spinning out.

Goodbye to Pete Burns, of Dead or Alive. Yes, he's dead now. You'll will be too some day, hopefully only after a quite a few more spins round.

Writing the post title about that 80s song sent me back to a 60s song — "Spinout" (which lets you see where Elvis was in my favorite pop music year, 1966):

"I think the Supreme Court is awful. I think it’s reached a real nadir."

"Probably only a couple of the justices, Breyer and Ginsburg, are qualified. They’re okay, they’re not great."

Said Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit.

"Qualified" is the new high standard. We're lucky to get an okay judge these days. Greatness is showy and not a good way to get a lofty judicial nomination. Greatness is disqualifying... and I'm sure Posner knows that.